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White, upper-middle-class, low-achieving teenagers are increasingly vulnerable to devil worship cults. Why? Because "Kids make great victims."
By Carlton Stowers |

The mass killings at a Matamoros, Mexico, ranch, apparently the work of Satan-worshiping drug smugglers, came as a gruesome shock. But for many Dallas area law enforcement officials, psychiatrists, and clergy, the horrors of Matamoros were just the latest and largest manifestation of a phenomenon that has made its way into North Texas cities.

With disturbing regularity, police and members of the medical and mental health communities are dealing with bizarre stories of teenage satanic activity, ranging from participation in ritualistic killings of small animals and blood drinking to attempted and successful suicides linked to the occult practices.

●Sitting in a small, sterile room at theMidlothian Police Department, a seventeen-year-old boy with dark, shoulder-length hairand piercing blue eyes was being questionedabout his involvement in the shooting deathof an undercover narcotics officer. He nervously reached into his pocket, withdrew ablack plastic heart, and began repeatedlykissing it.

The silver dollar-sized amulet, the youngster eventually explained, was “Terry Heart,” a medium he used to communicate with the spirit of a girl who had died of a drug overdose. “Terry,” he explained, was someone with whom he regularly consulted. It had, he later claimed, been “Terry” who had advised him and his accomplices that twenty-one-year-old George Raffield, posing as a senior student at Midlothian High School until he was murdered in October of 1987, was, in fact, an undercover narc. It was only after consulting “Terry Heart” that the plan to kill Raffield began to take form.

Richard Goeglein, an admitted Satanist who had fascinated fellow students with stories of devil-worshiping rituals in which he had participated, was eventually sentenced for the murder of Raffield along with sixteen-year-old Greg Knighten and seventeen-year-old Jonathon Jobe.

●Another Dallas area teenager committedsuicide in a cemetery near her home, leaving behind a diary in which she offered her life to the devil. Upon learning of the girl’s death, the rumor quickly circulated among her friends at school that she had been involved in a ritualistic death lottery wherein one of the group would kill himself as a sacrifice to Satan.

● In Greenville, a sixteen-year-old youngster disappeared from a local theater in November 1987 and was later found dead, buried in a shallow grave. A twenty-year-old indicted in the slaying had “666,” the Biblical “mark of the beast,” tattooed on his forehead. Authorities also found that he owned a ceremonial black robe, candles, and a library of occult literature, including the highly popular Satanic Bible, authored by cult leader Anton LaVey.

●Susan Cramer, a buyer for Taylors bookstores, says that LaVey’s book, which sets forth the philosophies of the Church of Satan, published in 1969, has been “a very good seller,” particularly in the last several years. Those purchasing the book are generally teenagers.

This is a very serious thing that is going on,” says Dallas psychiatrist Gary Ma-lone. “It presents a very real danger that wasn’t there just five or six years ago. And the danger is great. We have kids killing themselves and doing harm to others. I find it very frightening.”

Adds Dr. Linda Kelly, a program director at the Green Oaks Resource Centers, “The involvement of young people in satanic practices is something we’d better not bury our heads in the sand about.”

Clearly, law enforcement agencies, which appear to have been aware of devil-worshiping elements in criminal activity even before those working in mental health were alerted, agree.

In 1986, the Fort Worth police joined with the Department of Public Safety and two dozen other police departments and sheriffs offices in the Dallas/Fort Worth area to form a secret task force to investigate reported activities of satanic and occult groups. Known as the Organized Criminal Deviant Movements Network, it has come up with solid proof that a growing number of criminal acts are linked to belief in satanic philosophies. Mansfield Police Chief Marvin Ivy, the former administrative head of the task force, admits that the problem is far greater than he had expected.

Burleson Baptist minister Ken McBride, who claims to have once been a “high priest” in a Dallas area satanic group before his conversion to Christianity, now serves as a consultant to several police departments. He estimates that as many as 2,000 area teenagers and adults are involved in criminal activity directly related to the satanic movement. But Malone says it’s difficult to determine the number of active participants in satanic activities, chiefly because the problem is a relatively new one. “Five years ago.” he says, “those of us in the mental health field in Dallas were reading about this sort of behavior, but we weren’t seeing it. Now, we’re seeing a great deal of it. From what I can determine, the nationwide growth is phenomenal.”

And with the growth, a profile of the young Dallas Satanist has emerged. He is generally from a white, middle- to upper-middle-class family living in the suburbs or rural communities. He is often bright but bored and an underachiever in virtually all aspects of his life. He has low self-esteem and tends to disregard the difference between good and bad. He has problems in the home, uses drugs, and he is sexually promiscuous.

“I have yet to encounter a youngster involved in satanic activity who isn’t heavily into drugs,” says Kelly. “Where you find one. you find the other. In fact, one of the ways many young people are lured into this is by the promise of free drugs and sex.”

And, once lured into a group, they are often blackmailed into staying.

“Kids make great victims,” Kelly points out. “They’re looking for something that is exciting, something that will provide them with power and control over their own lives and the lives of others. That, basically, is what the satanic philosophy is all about: evil is power.

“On the one hand,” she says, “it is vitally important that the public begins to fece the problem. It can no longer look at these kids who are wearing inverted crosses and listening to music that advocates deviant sex and violence, even suicide, and pass it off as nothing more than a new twist to the time-honored teenage rebellion.

“On the other hand, it is important that we-in the mental health field and members of law enforcement-don’t promote this phenomenon into a hysterical situation.”

Researchers are finding that the majority of so-called Satan worshipers are actually youngsters, ages twelve to fifteen, in the “dabbling” stage of involvement. “They are buying the jewelry, reading the literature, doing chants, and trying to cast spells. They have developed self-styled rituals, burning candles and trying to cast evil spells on some classmate or teacher or parent they’re angry with,” says Kelly.

At the early stage there may be some minor criminal behavior, Kelly says-vandalism or painting satanic graffiti on walls. Many tire of the “fad” and drop out. Growing numbers do not.

“’We’re seeing more and more instances of a child literally terrorizing a family. Kids who have become involved in drugs and the occult are becoming verbally and physically abusive, threatening the most drastic forms of violence. In a sense, they are using fear to control their family.”

DeSoto Police Sergeant J.D. Horvath is among the growing ranks of law enforcement officers who fear the problem is accelerating. In the past year, DeSoto police have investigated a wide range of criminal activity related to satanic involvement, from mutilation of animals to drugs, burglaries, car theft, and grave desecration.

“I’ve sat in my office,” he says, “talking with a twelve-year-old girl who has told me stories that are all but unbelievable. I’ve got a daughter just about the same age. I’m still buying her Barbie dolls. And here is a child telling me about drinking the blood of some animal that she saw killed.”

Horvath recently worked an investigation where a nineteen-year-old Satanist had formed a “coven” of at least thirteen young girls, ranging in age from twelve to fifteen. “We felt certain he had been having sex with all of them,” he says, “and finally, one of the youngest girls gave us a statement and we were able to indict him. While he was in jail he telephoned another twelve-year-old girl and explained to her that the girl who had given us the statement was going to testify against him and probably send him to prison. He told her that she would have to ’shut her up.”

“Fortunately, we intercepted the message coming out of the jail and went to the middle school the next day-and found that the girl he had called had a butcher knife.”

Even the lowest-level “dabblers, ” Horvath says, are a potential danger to themselves and the community. As an example he points to a fifteen-year-old from a middle-class, devoutly Christian home, a high achiever academically. “This kid appeared to be really on course in his life. Except for his interest in Satanism-and the fact he was carrying a .357 Magnum with him everywhere he went.” A psychologist, having reviewed the case, said there was a good chance the youngster might have eventually used the gun had it not been discovered.

To make a troubling situation even worse. now there is evidence that a crossover mixing of anti-social youth groups is occurring. Regularly, police are finding that the neo-Nazi groups like the Skinheads are embracing the satanic ideals, During a recent drug bust of a teenage crack dealer, officers entered the suspect’s apartment to find that one wall was a shrine to the Nazi philosophy. On an adjacent wall, the dealer displayed a wide variety of satanic paraphernalia.

In another instance, a teenager in a south Dallas County community became angry with parents of a friend and left a mutilated rabbit on their front porch along with the message that “The reign of terror has begun.” Accompanying the message was a drawing of the satanic pentagram and a Nazi swastika.

Recently, police in several suburban communities have reported evidence that some youngsters are incorporating the voodoo rituals of the Santeria religious cult into their activities.

“It’s as if they’re trying to touch all the bases,” says Horvath.

Concern over the growing problem of Satanism is evident throughout the area. Seminars are being conducted by cult awareness groups, drawing large crowds. Last May more than a hundred law enforcement officers and mental health officials attended a Cult Awareness seminar sponsored by the Twin Lakes Psychiatric Hospital in Denton. A crowd of 500 was on hand in Waco recently to learn from members of the El Paso-based Watch Group, an organization that aids police in understanding cult activities. Throughout the smaller communities in the Dallas area, concerned parent groups are in-viting law enforcement specialists and psychologists to address them on the problem. The Dallas-based Cult Awareness Council, which held a regional conference on the subject in April, is now viewed as one of the most active anti-satanic organizations in the nation. And there are plans on the drawing board that would bring to Dallas a medical center that specializes in research and the treatment of those who have been involved in Satanism.

Some religious groups blame certain heavy-metal rock bands and violent movies for spreading the satanic influence, The experts take a more complex view. “The kids who are going overboard, becoming heavily involved in Satanism, are those who were already disturbed,” says Malone. “While there is some evidence that the easy availability of drugs, the influence of heavy-metal music, violent pornography, and even the slasher movies have made violence more acceptable to some young people, it is impossible to point to one. even all, as the basis for the problem. But the fact remains that some kids are obviously more over-stimulated by these types of influences than others.”

Kelly suggests that another stage be added to the generally accepted ladder of satanic involvement, one that precedes even the “dabbler” phase. “For lack of a better name,” she says, “I would refer to it as the ’shock’ stage. At that level, kids are dressing in all black, drawing pentagrams and goat heads on the covers of their notebooks, talking about devil worship-simply to get the attention of their parents and peers.

“At the same time, I’m not saying a parent should not concern himself with this kind of behavior because it could well open the door to more serious involvement. It’s at that stage that it can be most easily derailed. Unfortunately, the kids we’re seeing are those who have advanced far beyond that stage.”

And, records show, they are seeing these kids in growing numbers,

’The thing that really gets to you,” says Sergeant Horvath, “is the age of these kids who are buying into this junk. The more you deal with it, the more it gets to you emotionally. We’ve already sent ten kids off to mental hospitals. I constantly wonder what’s going to happen to them. And how many more there are going to be.”


The following guidelines on satanic involvement were prepared by Dr. Carl Raschke, professor of religious studies at the University of Denver, the Cult Awareness Network in Chicago, and the Bethesda PsychHealth Institute.

Watch for behavioral changes and mood swings such as:

● Avoiding family members.

●Dropping old friends and extracurricular activities.

●Becoming unusually secretive aboutnew friends and activities.

●Drastic personality changes, particularly loss of a sense of humor andincreased use of profanity.

●An obsession with movies, videos,books, and records that have themes ofviolence, rape, death, and demonism.

●An interest in satanic symbols-pentagrams, inverted crosses, demons,and werewolves.

●Changes in eating and sleepingpatterns.

●Heavy alcohol or drug use.

●Erratic school grades.

●Serious misbehavior, such as graffiti, vandalism, or cruelty to animals.

Keep the lines of communicationopen. If you disapprove of your child’sfriends, talk about it. Find out whatemotional needs they fill for him or her.If you’re concerned, check with theschool; perhaps a teacher or counselorhas noticed something. Or discuss theproblem with a therapist or religiouscounselor. -C.S.